After having seen the Swing Society perform at the On the Rocks Launch Party, I was somewhat apprehensive of this event. Though I appreciated the performance, a whole night of watching amateur dance just didn’t seem too appealing to me personally. However once I got there I was pleasantly surprised at the size and skill of the swing enthusiasts in St Andrews. What I had thought was a fairly niche group of people was actually a large thriving community of about 40 individuals who all seemed to be able to dance pretty well.
The choice of Rectors Café as a venue made me slightly concerned, as it seemed ill fitting for the event, yet once I arrived I was surprised to see it transformed completely. By pushing aside all of the tables and chairs, the room had been turned into a startlingly cozy affair, feeling both inviting and enclosed at the same time. Furthermore, while the large windows created a somewhat fish bowl effect that would have put me off dancing in public, no one seemed phased in the slightest, which was good as there was almost constantly a group of people outside gawping at the dancing crowd. The dancers had truly got into the mood of the event and almost everyone was dressed up in their glad rags to try and emulate the fashion that came along with the dance style, transforming Rectors Café even further. What’s more, the music at the swing party was absolutely brilliant. Having a live band was one of the event’s best assets and seemed to get more people excited about dancing. Plus, who doesn’t love a little bit of 50s style music to set the mood on a Saturday night?
So, overall, the Blues Afterparty had a lot to live up to, and sadly it didn’t quite manage it. While Rector’s Café had been a surprisingly good location for a dance party (no one was more surprised at that then I) the Barron Theatre didn’t exactly have the same effect. Though someone had clearly made an effort with the setup and atmosphere, decorating the room with fairy lights, the awkward seating made the dancers seem enclosed, losing the carefree nature of the earlier event. Though the music was just as brilliant as before, it was far mellower, as blues music tends to be. This meant that much of the dancing was just slow dancing, and for a party that was meant to stay open till 5am most people seemed asleep by 12:30.
What was also difficult about both events was the aforementioned level of skill required to perform. Sure, earlier in the day there were taster sessions to rectify this problem, but realistically no one was going to learn how to properly dance in a half an hour slot. Also, the people who went to the Blues After party seemed to be the exact same people that had been to the Swing dance session earlier. Apparently the level of dance required didn’t attract too many newcomers, which resulted in a slightly disappointing turnout. The run on effect of this meant that while the event was fun to watch, I felt I couldn’t fully engage myself. Overall, though a higher attendance at the afterparty and some more upbeat music might have been appreciated, On The Rocks and the Swing Dance Society managed to create two entertaining events that gave everyone a sweet taste for dance.